Actor Robert Kendall dies at 82


Robert Kendall, a Michigan native whose dark, exotic looks led to a career as a character actor in Hollywood, died Nov. 16 of a heart attack in his Seattle home. He was 82.

Kendall played Hassan, the young assistant to Eve Arden, in "Song of Scheherazade" (1947) and Ahmed, the young man who gave the warning calls to Tony Martin in Algiers whenever trouble brewed, in "Casbah" (1948), both Universal releases.

In a 1955 episode of the "Ford Theater" TV series, Kendall played an Arab prince, replete with white turban, who is the prom date for Natalie Wood. And according to his friend, William Hare, Kendall was at one point penciled in to play the part that went to Sal Mineo in "Rebel Without a Cause" (1955).

Kendall portrayed 1930s racketeer Baby Face Nelson in episodes of TV's "Gang Busters" in 1952 and in two films culled from that series, "Guns Don't Argue" (1957) and "Ma Barker's Killer Brood" (1960).

Kendall came to Hollywood in 1945 after winning a talent contest at the W.K. Kellogg Auditorium in Battle Creek, Mich. However, when he appeared for his screen test on his first day out West, he was told the company was out of money and he was asked for a loan. And when he returned to the Hollywood YMCA, where he was staying, he discovered that his clothes had been stolen.

Kendall took a job as a waiter at a drive-in restaurant at Sunset and La Brea in Hollywood, and six weeks later he was discovered by Christopher Hofeld, an agent who represented Sylvia Sidney, and brought to the Universal lot.

After acting, Kendall worked as a school teacher, author ("White Teacher in a Black School"), Hollywood Studio magazine writer and book agent ("Betty Grable: The Girl With the Million Dollar Legs").